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Despair in Ekiti as flood batters communities

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Ekiti

When the Nigerian Meteorological Agencies (NiMET) predicted that over 20 states would be overrun by a massive flood in September, some of the latest victims in Ekiti State did not expect to be named among the victims. They had their reasons- Ekiti State has not been witnessing such magnitude of flood in the past.

But alas, the August 29, 2019, heavy downpour, which started at about 9:20 pm, and lasted for about six hours, making sure that they became part of the pathetic data of 2019 flood victims in the country.

While the downpour lasted, several locations in the state capital were submerged.

For instance, a bridge in the Eureka area of Ureje Community on Polytechnic Road, Ado-Ekiti, which links some areas with the Afe Babalola University (ABUAD) and the Federal Polytechnic (FEDPOLY), Ado Ekiti, and also provides the link between the state capital and some local council areas equally went under, causing scores of commuters stranded till the wee hours of the following morning.

By the time the floodwater subsided, parts of the bridge had been washed off.

Apart from being the only link to ABUAD and FEDPOLY, Polytechnic Road also links the state capital to some border towns, including Ijan-Ekiti, Ikole, Ode-Ekiti, Aisegba, Ayede, Ayedun, and Omuo among other towns in the eastern part of the state.

Efforts by previous administrations in the state to create alternative routes through either Ikere-Ado Road, in the southern part of the state, or Afao Road in the central to link the Polytechnic Road, a Federal Government road, so as to ease movement have failed to materialise.

Other parts of the state did not fare better as the flood-wrecked havoc on residential houses, roads, farmlands, and destroyed property worth millions of naira.

Worst hit areas by the disaster were those with either a very poor drainage system or those without drainage. These include Elemi on Afao Road and Okujoda Zone 1. In Ado-Ekiti, areas badly affected include Saint Paul; Boom Town; Eminrin; Ijelu village, Oke Osun in Ikere, in Ikere Local Council and Ogbese, in Ise-Orun Local Council. Some residents of these areas are now operating as internally displaced persons.

Recounting her ordeal, one of the victims, Mrs. Omojola Owoseeni, blamed the state government for its inability to provide drainage, and clear water channels, especially in the satellite towns.

Owoseeni, who resides around Saint Paul in Ado-Ekiti, said many houses located close to the road in the area were usually flooded due to the poor drainage system, adding that the improvised drainage put in place by residents of the area could not withstand the flood.

Fagbemi Oloruntoba, a resident of Elemi who was battered by the flood said: “There is no year we do not experience a serious flood in this area because of the poor drainage network here. Worsening the poor situation of drainage is the blockage of many of the routes that water should pass freely with building and household waste. So, the government has two major things to do, improve the drainage system and also ensure that household waste is properly disposed off. Many of us here have lost property worth millions of naira to this yearly flood, as several houses shops and kiosks have either been destroyed or washed away.”

Another victim, Mrs. Desmond Ifeoma, who runs a restaurant around Okeyinmi area of Ado-Ekiti, said the poor drainage system in her neighbourhood has almost crumbled her business.

“Can you imagine a situation where every time it rains my entire restaurant is flooded? Apart from unsettling customers, I always incur immense losses when this happens. That is why I and other affected persons in the neighbourhood are appealing to the state government to kindly assist us to fix the drainage as our losses are mounting,” she said.

Another resident of Polytechnic Road, Mr. Idowu Alonge said the bridge on Polytechnic Road was overrun by flood around 1. 00 a.m. on Tuesday, August 27 and lasted till 6 a.m. on Wednesday, August 28. He said the flood also surged into a church and about five houses located within the vicinity of Ureje Bridge. “Nobody could cross that bridge to the Polytechnic side or go into Ado Ekiti city. Most of the residents had to wake up and caught a glimpse of the ravaging fast moving water.”

Also, Ojo Olorunleke, a resident of the Boom Town, Eminrin who recounted his ordeal, said that he had to stay indoors till 12 noon on Wednesday before he could walk through the stream on the bridge already created by the flood that devastated their environment.

The Chairman of the community, Mr. Oladimeji, appealed to the government to dredge the Ureje stream, adding that lowering the water level would prevent recurrence of the flooding.

“This Ureje stream was dredged about three years ago, but the job was not well done and the effect is what we are seeing today. About four houses could have been destroyed by now, but for communal efforts made to ensure that we reinforced the inner Ureje bridge that links us with Oke Ila region. There is a need for the government to carry out thorough dredging of the stream to reduce the water level.”
 
Residents of Ikere Ekiti in Ikere Local Council also got a heavy dose of the devastation as the flood rendered many of them homeless, while property worth millions of naira were destroyed.

Areas affected by the flood in the second-largest city in Ekiti include Kajola, Adun Ogbon in Oke Osun and Alade Filling Station area in Odo Oja, where massive destruction was recorded as many houses, livestock, gardens, and cars were submerged.

One of the victims, Mrs. Rotimi Ojo, her aged husband, and her five children had to move to her in-law’s place at Ijan, several kilometres away from the area, having lost their accommodation to the flood.

Disturbed by the losses, the state government promised that it would soon begin dredging and reconstructing the drainage system.

Governor Kayode Fayemi while touring heavily flooded areas in the state, sympathised with the victims and promised that his government would support the victims, and leave no stone unturned in ensuring that perennial flooding is curbed in the state.

While warning against indiscriminate disposal of waste, the governor urged them to imbibe maintenance culture and desist from acts that are capable of endangering the society.

Fayemi, who informed that government has de-silted blocked drainages in virtually all parts of Ado Ekiti, the state capital so as to make for free flow of water and forestall flooding, lamented that residents were still clogging the drainage with refuse.

“This government prioritises the welfare of citizens. We cannot fold our arms and watch people lose lives and property to flood. This was why we embarked on the de-silting of blocked drains and the dredging of blocked waterways. For us as a government, we are committed to a safe environment.

“While we have filled up the areas eaten up by erosion with heavy stones to prevent the Ureje Bridge from caving in, we are also considering some lasting solutions. But our people to have critical roles to play in ensuring that we have a safe environment. It is unacceptable to dump refuse in the drains. Once the drains are blocked, flooding is certain to happen. Whoever is caught dumping refuse in the drains will face the wrath of the law,” he said.

At Ogbese, where the bridge had been overrun by flood, and residents living close to the riverbank sacked, the governor while interfacing with members of the community said the flood was not unconnected with the lackadaisical attitude of the contractor handling the construction of Ogbese dam.

The governor immediately moved to the dam and summoned the contractor to his office in a bid to explore ways of controlling water from the dam and preventing it from causing a needless flood.

Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has visited many local councils in the state to assess the extent of damage done by the flood.

The timely presence of the NEMA boss was said to be at the instance of the state governor, who briefed the agency on the extent of the damage done by the torrential rainfall.

The acting Director-General of NEMA, Air Commodore Akupe Iyamu, who toured the sites in company of top officials of the state, disclosed that the agency would immediately support affected people with relief materials as a way of bringing succour to them.

According to him, “Flood in this part of the world is a consequence of bad behaviour. This is not the time to start saying this is my ancestral home, no. You must be alive first before you can defend those narratives. This is purely a water route that they built on. So, you cannot control nature, it does what it likes at a particular time. We cannot, no. What we need to do is to relocate them to higher ground.”
 
Meanwhile, the state government has distributed relief materials to students of the Ekiti State University (EKSU), whose off-campus hostels were affected by the flood.

Represented by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Mr. Biodun Oyebanji, and the Chief of Staff, Mr. Biodun Omoleye, Fayemi expressed concern about the students’ wellbeing, especially as many of them have been sacked from their residences by the flood.


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